Making artwork in the medium of basketry was a profound experience for both the learners in my art room and myself as professional arts educator. My students reacted with anticipation when the materials for basket weaving were prepared for them in the art room. They responded with keen interest at ways of manufacturing something so different than what they've ever seen before. Curiosity manifested itself in accountable talk. Mentioning 'reed' and how that relates to plants we have studied and drawn throughout other units during the year. Reacting to the smell of the reeds and wooden bases as they soaked in real time gave a sensory exposure to learning one rarely affords in a school day.
There were techniques to read up on and practice in setting up the armature around which to weave. This opportunity created leaders of the few who's hands could move more deftly toward this initial step. then there was the mantra of weaving itself; a truly magical experience as each student could see the basket form before themselves. There was a lot of smiling and accountable talk back and forth comparing and contrasting baskets.
Having these materials as a resource in my art room enabled me to focus directly on my teaching craft and quality in actual instruction. i had the time during class to speak with the students as artists in how they felt regarding the activity. every single learner produced a basket uniquely similar to them.
This was thrilling as an educator and changed the way I consider what I can do in the space of my arts learning environment.